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35mm Color Skopar on M8 = ??? on M9


dalippe

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One of my favorite M8 lenses is my little, 35mm f/2.5 CV Color Skopar. It has my favorite FOV (approximately 50mm full frame equivalent). And mounted on the M8, it gives me a tiny, light, convenient package for a day out, while sacrificing little of importance in technical quality at its available apertures compared to my 35 'lux.

 

So what 50mm replaces it on the M9 as an alternative to the 50 'lux when I want to go especially small and light and will have plenty of light? The Zeiss Planar f/2.0 and 50 'cron aren't that small and light; the 50 Summarit is small sans hood but blocks a lot of the viewfinder with its hood (I infer this from looking at the 35mm lines on the M8) and focus shifts according to Sean Reid's review; and the CV Color Skopar and Heliar Classic were both somewhat soft in Sean's tests.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Thanks for the quick replies!

 

Sean: At what aperture do you find the Skopar become nice and sharp on the M9?

 

Ed: Thanks for the tip: I'm not so familiar with the older Leica lenses since the M8 was my first M. Is the collapsible lens you mentioned really sharp at 2.8 or only stopped down a bit?

 

Now that Ed mentions f/2.8, that reminds me that, until recently, Leica made an Elmarit f/2.8? How is it for size and technical performance?

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The 50 Skopar really starts to resolve well at F/4 (at least the one I tested). In fact, at smaller apertures the 50 Skopar delivers better res. (in my testing) than many other 50s. It's a great lens for daylight. The way a lens performs on center on the M8 should be a very good indicator of how it performs on center on the M9 (same pixel pitch, etc.). To know about performance in the outer zones on the M9, of course, requires new testing.

 

There's also the 50 Summarit to consider.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

Edited by sean_reid
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Thanks for the quick replies!

 

 

Ed: Thanks for the tip: I'm not so familiar with the older Leica lenses since the M8 was my first M. Is the collapsible lens you mentioned really sharp at 2.8 or only stopped down a bit?

 

Now that Ed mentions f/2.8, that reminds me that, until recently, Leica made an Elmarit f/2.8? How is it for size and technical performance?

 

I had one of the newer version of the 50 Elmar f/2.8 and it was a great lens. I used it more then my 50 Cron when I didn't want to use the 50 Lux ASPH. I felt it was better then the 50 Cron, just one stop slower. Not that the Cron was bad but I liked the images I got from the Elmar better. Very good at all apertures. Size is very small collapsed and without the hood screwed on it diesn't extend that far out from the body. I sold my copy, and the 50 Cron, because I really didn't use them that much and on the M8 with the need of a filter and then you add the screw on hood it did get fairly long even collapsed.

Edited by Shootist
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With your needs the 50 elmar-M sounds ideal. smaller than the planar/cron, but high performing and will prob give you a little more performance at the wider end (esp in corners) over the CV 50 2.5 judging by tests I have seen. You can find one for $550-600 used in excellent to mint condition. I have the planar and feel it a very strong performer. while not large, it is not as small as a 50 elmar-M of course. I would personally consider flare resistance when thinking of the older elmar 50s. My older version is lovely and old school but flares quickly into the light.

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With your needs the 50 elmar-M sounds ideal. smaller than the planar/cron, but high performing and will prob give you a little more performance at the wider end (esp in corners) over the CV 50 2.5 judging by tests I have seen. You can find one for $550-600 used in excellent to mint condition. I have the planar and feel it a very strong performer. while not large, it is not as small as a 50 elmar-M of course. I would personally consider flare resistance when thinking of the older elmar 50s. My older version is lovely and old school but flares quickly into the light.

 

Thanks for the advice. Not having worked with this lens, I obviously don't know how bad the flare problem is. But flare is something I can usually work around: that was the biggest weakness of the 35 Skopar compared to the 35 'lux, and once I knew that it didn't usually bite me. I've now read up a bit on this collapsible Elmar that both you Ed recommended, and there seems to be a pretty good consensus on its technical merits. I have to admit that I'm quite surprised that a collapsible lens could be so technically strong; I would think that the placement of the optical elements when extended would have too much slop in it. I'm glad I asked this question since it never would have occurred to me to go this direction!

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Dalippe,

 

The modern just current model 50 elmar-M is not what I am referring to regarding flare. Its the older chrome 'old style' elmars that can be very suceptible to flare. Some are 40+ years old! They are much softer wider open than the latest elmar-M, which is much more flare resistant and in keeping with most modern glass.

 

I own an old 50 elmar from about 1960s and a CV skopar pancake 2 and the CV is far more flare resistant than the old elmar... by a country mile!

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I own both lens, the 50 summarit and 35mm Color Skopar, the first 35mm Skopar I had to send back to my dealer due to unacceptable blurred edge, very soft on both sides but sharp in the center. Got a replaced one, much better but still soft on the left edge this time, I can only live with it.

 

The 50 Summarit is just lovely, took me long time to learn how to compose though.

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I own both lens, the 50 summarit and 35mm Color Skopar, the first 35mm Skopar I had to send back to my dealer due to unacceptable blurred edge, very soft on both sides but sharp in the center. Got a replaced one, much better but still soft on the left edge this time, I can only live with it.

 

The 50 Summarit is just lovely, took me long time to learn how to compose though.

 

Are you finding focus shift with the summarit, as reported by Sean Reid? Also, I suspect the summarit with hood will block much of the 50mm frame-lines on the M9 as it blocks a good bit of the 35mm frame-lines on the M8. Perhaps one can find an alternate, smaller hood that will still works well?

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Mild focus shift, such as occurs with the 50 Summarit may often not be noticeable in normal use.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

Hi Sean,

 

Yes, I realize that and you make the point clearly in your review. That is why I was wondering whether Lothar ever found it troubling in practice. But I tend to give a, perhaps unnecessarily, wide berth to lenses with any focus shift because lenses with bad focus shift have caused me grief in the past. There is still the issue of the large hood that will probably block a lot of the 50mm M9 lines, although I suppose I could always play with smaller screw-on hoods.

Edited by dalippe
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My Color Skopar 35 (classic edition) is pretty soft until f8 on my M8, with very soft corners. I guess it would be close to useless on an M9. It is also quite low contrast. I really now only use it on my M4 with faster B&W film, where it gives a nice vintage look to the photos. My beef with all the CV lenses I have bought or tried is that they are too variable in quality. Slightly inaccurate focus I can have adjusted but general softness or low contrast is not easy to cure. My personal view is that if they tightened up on QC, the market would bear the slight cost increase required. We know that the factory is capable of good QC as there have been very few complaints on the CZ lenses.

 

Wilson

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Perfectly agree, a bit more QC on the CV lens will totally benefit both Cosina and Voigtland as a brand.

 

However my Summarit 50 doesn't really have focus shift issue. Or at least it's not easy to notice.

 

My Color Skopar 35 (classic edition) is pretty soft until f8 on my M8, with very soft corners. I guess it would be close to useless on an M9. It is also quite low contrast. I really now only use it on my M4 with faster B&W film, where it gives a nice vintage look to the photos. My beef with all the CV lenses I have bought or tried is that they are too variable in quality. Slightly inaccurate focus I can have adjusted but general softness or low contrast is not easy to cure. My personal view is that if they tightened up on QC, the market would bear the slight cost increase required. We know that the factory is capable of good QC as there have been very few complaints on the CZ lenses.

 

Wilson

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My Color Skopar 35 (classic edition) is pretty soft until f8 on my M8, with very soft corners. I guess it would be close to useless on an M9. It is also quite low contrast. I really now only use it on my M4 with faster B&W film, where it gives a nice vintage look to the photos. My beef with all the CV lenses I have bought or tried is that they are too variable in quality. Slightly inaccurate focus I can have adjusted but general softness or low contrast is not easy to cure. My personal view is that if they tightened up on QC, the market would bear the slight cost increase required. We know that the factory is capable of good QC as there have been very few complaints on the CZ lenses.

 

Wilson

 

I agree. I now have a decent CV 21P and my 35 pancake II, while it focuses past infinity, focuses accurately according to careful tests and performs well (its almost as if the focus ring has not been lines up quite right with the internal focus if that makes sense).

 

Their designs have far more potential than their QC can often deliver, so trying a few samples is an issue and buying used, without clear disclaimers or the option of return, pretty risky.

 

One of my best shots of all time was done on a severely decentered 21P, which came out fine because it was stopped well down and the scene did not show up the problem! Later on it hit me in the face with ruined rolls. That one went back to CV and was replaced by one that is good all round. Still, on FF, the ZM 21 shows itself stronger by a fair margin in the corners.

 

The CV 35 classic and pancake are so darned small that it is worth trying a few until you get a good one. I now have a 35 Summarit, which although a slightly stronger performer than the CV, is almost double the size of the pancake 2!

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My Color Skopar 35 (classic edition) is pretty soft until f8 on my M8, with very soft corners. I guess it would be close to useless on an M9. It is also quite low contrast. I really now only use it on my M4 with faster B&W film, where it gives a nice vintage look to the photos. My beef with all the CV lenses I have bought or tried is that they are too variable in quality. Slightly inaccurate focus I can have adjusted but general softness or low contrast is not easy to cure. My personal view is that if they tightened up on QC, the market would bear the slight cost increase required. We know that the factory is capable of good QC as there have been very few complaints on the CZ lenses.

 

Wilson

 

There are CV sample variations for sure and it sounds like you have a bad copy of the CV 35/2.5. On the M8, it should resolve quite well wide open. Contrast is moderate - not as low as some lenses but lower than the many Zeiss ZM and Leica ASPH lenses. That contrast difference can be a pro or a con.

 

So far, however, I'm seeing some instance where lenses that show some flare on the M8 show more flare on the M9. Some photographers like flare, of course, but this is a factor I want to look at carefully as I do the new lens testing on the M9.

 

My own CV 35/2.5, for example, normally performs very well on the M9. But if light is coming into the frame just the wrong way, as it was during a recent shoot of a bride being made up, the flare levels on that lens are higher than I'd like (for that subject).

 

Over time, we'll likely see that the same pattern *may* be true for older Leica, Canon, etc. RF lenses that are more prone to flare. Some will like the effect and some may find it problematic.

 

The DR advantages of lower contrast lenses (moving shadows away from the noise floor) still hold on the M9 but the flare trade off will not be everyone's cup of tea. Of course, flare has historically contributed quite a bit to the look of many famous pictures made with 35 mm film cameras.

 

I'll know more in a few months when I've done various lens group testing on the M9.

 

P.S. I agree that it can be tricky buying a used CV lens unless the seller knows that the copy performs well (and can be relied upon to know a better sample from a worse one). Buying a CV lens new allows one some options if the sample is off. Often, of course, the first sample one tries is just fine.

 

So, some summary thoughts on CV lenses on the M9.... Some of them will be good choices for the M9 (so long as the specific lens example is a good one). Some have been mixed performers on the M8 and will likely continue to be so on the M9. Some that do well on the M8 *may* not do as well on the M9 (because of flare, performance in the far outer zones, etc.). Hopefully people will report on their experiences with the various CV lens/M9 combinations here and share examples when they can.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

Edited by sean_reid
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Sean,

 

It will be very interesting to see how the CZ lenses work. CZ made a big thing about designed in flare resistance. I thought long and hard a few weeks ago about getting a new 50 ZM Planar rather than a second hand Summicron 50, which was in the end slightly more than a Planar + hood. In the end, it was down to size consideration - the Summicron with built in hood, is just that bit neater as a package with an M8/9. The advantage of the new CZ is that it would not have needed adjustment as the Summicron does (back focus and not reaching infinity). This is inconvenient even if Collectible Cameras from whom I bought it, have very reasonably, volunteered to pick up the cost.

 

Wilson

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